Miami Dolphins players kneel during anthem, despite threat of suspensions

By Alex Butler
Miami Dolphins players kneel during anthem, despite threat of suspensions
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills was one of several players to kneel during the national anthem Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Several Miami Dolphins players knelt during the national anthem before facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt before the 26-24 loss. Newcomer defensive end Robert Quinn stood up and raised his first during the song.


"It just happened that way,'' Stills said. "When I'm on a knee, most of the time I'm praying, and thank God for having Albert next to me. Being a part of this protest hasn't been easy. I thought I was going to be by myself out there. Today I had an angel with me with Albert being out there. I'm grateful he sees what's happening, and he wants to do something about it as well.''

Wilson called stills a "great leader" after the game.

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Stills kneeled during the anthem during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He said he "didn't see why not" when asked if the protests against racial inequality and police brutality would continue throughout the 2018 season.


The five-year veteran and 2017 Dolphins captain also sported a shirt before the game with a message.

"I don't have time for: hate, racism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, bigotry," the shirt said.

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The players kneeled one day after the Dolphins submitted a disciplinary document to the league citing fines or suspensions as possible punishments in a section called "proper anthem conduct." Dolphins owner Stephen Ross previously called the policy a "placeholder" until the league clarifies its rules regarding the anthem. Dolphins coach Adam Gase said that he would not be addressing the protests with his players.

He also said "good luck" when it comes to trying to suspend players for kneeling during the anthem this season, citing the difficult process of enforcing a suspension on a player by a club.

"It's just the way it happened," Wilson said. "God planned it that way. We took a stand together. It's something that I was going to do regardless if he was there or not. To have somebody that is just as passionate about the situation as I am, it's great that we can do it together."

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Wilson said the decision is something he thought through. He said everyone has their own opinion on it and that others "know what they're doing and why they are doing it."

"When you have a high platform like this and you are able to speak on certain situations that cause and affect, you want to do that," Wilson said.

Stills, Wilson and Quinn weren't the only players around the league to protest during the anthem. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins also raised his fist before taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Eagles cornerback De'Vante Bausby also raised a fist, while defensive end Chris Long put his arm around Jenkins in support.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin also raised his fist before facing the Dallas Cowboys. Jacksonville Jaguars stars Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey and T.J. Yeldon were not on the field during the national anthem on Thursday.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the protests on Friday morning, calling for suspensions.


"The NFL players are at it again -- taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the national anthem Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their 'outrage' at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love," Trump tweeted.

"Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying so much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!"

The NFL also released a statement, saying that players are "expected" to stand during the anthem, but implementation and enforcement of club work rules will be delayed in relation to players being disciplined.

"The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans," the league statement said. "While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem."


"Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL's policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room."

"We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities."

Colin Kaepernick, who began the protests in 2016, tweeted out his support for Stills.

"My brother [Stills] continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee. Albert Wilson joined him in protest," Kaepernick wrote Thursday. "Stay strong brothers!"

The leagues "anthem policy" is currently on hold as the NFL and NFLPA discuss the union's grievances against the league's stance. The NFL previously stated that players would be allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem, but if players are on the field during the song they are subject to discipline if they are not standing.


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